Looking for advice on Learning to TIG weld

The obvious choice to me would be to take a course at the local community college. The problem with this is that it's an hour and a half one way. I also travel a bit.

I'm looking for recommendations, particularly on books. I'd also like advice on what is the minimum practical toolset for learning. I'm well aware that the wrong tools can impede learning, just as the best can not make up for absent skill.

I did some stick welding a loooooong time ago, high school stuff. Never got really good at it, just good enough to keep the instructor happy. I've gotten a mess of opinions from "learn stick first" or "learn oxy-acetylene first" to knowing either first makes TIG harder to learn.

My goal here is to learn to weld aluminum antenna structures. I'd be dealing with fairly heavy material and odd inside corners of rods joined to tubing, both round and square.

Reply to
Rich Osman
Loading thread data ...

I have the most of the Village Press hardbound books (reprints of HSM)...

I'm interested mostly in model engines and find the Philip Duclos articles very informative. Paul in AJ AZ

Reply to

Ever try to learn to roller skate by reading a book?

$.02 from a welder ..............

On a scale of one to ten, what you want to do is a seven or eight. You are at .25 on the scale. There is no way you will learn it from books. And even if you read books and got some tips, you would still need to actually be able to do it. I would estimate that you will need about 120 hours of practice alone to be proficient. And that is "IF" you have the talent.

If you want the BASIC equipment, that will be about $2,000. That allows for $1500 for machine, and $500 for personal equipment and enough consumables to get you started. Better machines that will really do what you want in heavier materials and with pulsers and sequencers run up to $4,000.

The advice you received about learning to oxyacetylene weld first is 100% correct. OA welding is a two handed process, using heat in one hand and a filler rod in the other. Exactly (almost, well, kinda sorta) like TIG. If you can learn that from someone who has the equipment, it would help you shorten your learning curve on TIG. You can buy a used gas rig for a couple of hundred bucks. Aircraft builders use OA to weld aluminum tubing for aircraft, so don't discount OA.

The TIG work you want to do is at the top of the line welding-wise. Don't shortcut yourself. Take whatever steps you want to. Apparently you don't want it enough to put in the hours or miles. And what does, "just good enough to keep the instructor happy," mean? Sounds like you took the easy way there, too, and shorted YOURSELF.

Either put in the time and money to do it right, or sub it out. If you are making antennas out of "fairly heavy materials", you better darn well know that they will stay together and not kill yourself or someone else. If you want to do this, do it the absolute best you can, become an artist, and have a reputation of skill, credibility, ability, and accuracy. It will pay off in the end. There are lots of welders out there who do it "just good enough to keep (fill in the blank) happy."

Maybe you don't have the talent or skill required. Maybe you don't want it bad enough to do what it takes. Maybe you don't want to lay out $ X,000 on a risky venture and then find out you CAN'T do it. Maybe it would be easier and cheaper to sub it out, and concentrate on the sales and marketing. The faster you can answer those questions, the quicker you will arrive at your goal.


Reply to
Desert Traveler

Your best bet is to find a local freelance TIG welder who is willing to tutor you.

Check around the local shops and try to find somebody that many other people respect for their welding and knowledge.

He, or she, can then help you with equipment that is scaled to your work, and give you some hands on training.

TIG skill is very personal. Anybody can learn it, but how long it takes you and how good you will get are completely dependant on your ability and drive.

Buy me a plan ticket and I will fly down from Seattle and walk you through it.

You can do a google search for my posts over at sci.engr.joining.welding. I post a lot about TIG.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

I am always willing to spread the gospel of TIG. I teach Tuesday and Thursday evenings at South Seattle Community college. Other than that my schedule floats with the breeze. Let me know next time you are coming through rain central, and I will give you some readers digest lessons.

I have been TIG welding for 20 years, as of this month, and teaching welding fabrication for 6 years at SSCC

OA is the best intro work you can do for TIG, not so much because it is so much like it, but because OA is like heavy weight lifting compared to TIG. It builds your muscle control and eye hand coordination so when you try TIG you don't look like a complete buffoon.

Also OA is much cheaper to set up. All my beginning students start in Oxy-Acet, no matter what welding process they eventually wish to master. It is an excellent touchstone for skill because it takes so much patience and control.

You can start with TIG of course, but you might as well buy a case of tungstens and cups to destroy as you learn.

I understand that. Most of the people I teach are hobbiests, crafts-people, and artists. I get a lot of people in my class who are really sick of doing something else and want to start making things. I can think of no more noble method of spending time than making things.

The scale of the work you wish to do may require some sizeable equipment.

To give you an idea... A small AC/DC TIG outfit that would just barely be able to do the size of the work you want to do will cost about $2000 once you add in all the other stuff you will need.

An medium size rig that will allow you to easily produce your antennas, would be closer to $3000.

For a production setup more like $4000 - $5000.

Yes you can buy older machines, but they will require very large power hookups, and can often be a nightmare of hidden problems.

Here are my 3 top picks for TIG welding machines. Do some google searching for dealers.

Low end The Thermal Arc 185TSW is running about $1700 right now for a complete package.

Mid-range The Miller Syncrowave 250DX is about $3000 ready to go.

High end The Miller Dynasty 300 DX runs about $4000.

BTW I have done quite a bit of repair welding on steel and aluminum trussing and antenna towers including a complete rebuild of a 110 ft short wave tower on Mercer Island.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

For learning to TIG weld, I would get a Lincoln SquareWave 175 or a Miller Econotig. Both are available in the $900-1,100 range and are, in my opinion, acceptable to learn how to TIG weld.

You don't mention how thick the aluminum you're intending to weld is, just that it is 'heavy'. The Lincoln and Miller above *can* weld 1/4" aluminum but aren't really suited for more than 1/8" thick.

When I learned how to TIG weld, I got several books, the best of which was "The Welder's Handbook" by Richard Finch. And I spent about 100 hours just running beads. Then I spent about 150 hours making sculptures. By that time I was able to make things that had good penetration and fairly good looking beads.

At that point I took a couple of my 'sculptures' and visited an expert TIG welder for a day. He was able to raise my welding skill from 'acceptable' to very good in a few hours because I already had the basic skills, I just didn't know exactly what to look for or how to correct particular problems. If I had gone to him to start with, it would have taken much longer as I would have had to learn the basic skills before I could identify the nuances.

I do not know how to OA weld - I have an OA setup that I use for cutting and brazing but have never done any welding with it.


Reply to
C.S. Mo

Reply to
Rich Osman

I learned to weld at a votech school long ago. They only taught stick and oxy/acet at the time. Much later I took a course at a community college to learn how to Tig weld. In both cases the amount of instruction was very small compared to the amount of time I spent atthe schools.

I expect Ernie does a better job, but my experience is that after you get shown some safety items, the instructor wanders around and sees how people are doing. And more or less lets you learn on your own, except for stepping in if you are doing something wrong or havivg a lot of difficulty. In my case when I learned to Tig weld, the instructor was busy with a bunch of new students doing Stick and Gas welding, and by the time he got to me, I already was Tig welding. Sure I improved, but I really did not get taught much. Now I did already know how to gas weld, and I think if you can do one, you can do the other. Things as pulling back the torch vs easing off on the pedal are not a lot of difference.

School is definately good, but just doing it will work.

I would figure out what you need for the work you are wanting to do, and not buy a Tig welder that is too small to learn on. The big ones will work better at the low end and the high end.


Reply to
Dan Caster

PolyTech Forum website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.